Friday, July 31, 2015

First Word: Suzanne Adam: Temptation

It is sitting right in front of me on a plate. Chocolate. Temptation with a capital T. What’s left at this stage of my life? Love affairs or designer clothes have no appeal. The word temptation hints at something harmful or naughty, to be avoided. To give in to it is considered a sign of character weakness. Heaven forbid!
            Yet, I do have a bucket list. No harm in wishing. I doubt there are any dark temptations on my list of things yet to do or accomplish. I’ve never written my list down. It simply drifts in my head. Oh, the satisfaction in crossing kayaking off my list. And what fun (and hard work for my stiff joints)! I never thought my long-in-the-works memoir would see the light of day. But there it is! Just checked off my list a return visit to hike in the Torres del Paine National Park. I say “checked” rather than “crossed off”. At my age it’s not unusual to think: “Well, this is the last time I’ll be doing this.” But then a hopeful inner voice murmurs: “You never know.”
            I must retract my earlier claim of my single chocolate temptation. As I write, a daily temptation comes to mind – telling that unpleasant someone what I actually think of him/her. I must retrain myself from saying ---- you. I give vent to that ugly urge when I’m driving alone and no other driver lets me change lanes. No one to hear me. Or alone in the kitchen when the soup boils all over the stove. I swear at uneven sidewalks (damn city) that trip me up. My repertoire of swear words is limited. In the presence of others, I control the urge and mentally rearrange my feelings to express them in a sociably-acceptable and inoffensive way.
            When the Chilean earth suddenly jolted under my feet, I discovered I have a not-very-nice Spanish swear word in my vocabulary. It surprised me more than anyone, when it leapt off my tongue.
No, I’m not revealing it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

First Word: Mary Judith Ress: Temptation

The Last Temptation of Christ (Nikos Kazantzakis) was to come down from the cross, marry Mary Magdalene, and live an ordinary life as carpenter and see his children grow like olive branches around his table.
            To live an ordinary life rather than a life of exaggeration and maudlin sacrifice—is this really a temptation? 
            Today, an ordinary life would mean having a house, a car, and an income that allows you to travel to Hawaii or the Bahamas.  It would mean getting hooked on House of Cards or Downton Abby and shopping at Flabella’s.  It would mean lovely luncheons in a garden shaded by a grape arbor and surrounded by your own carefully coddled roses.  An ordinary life would be rejoicing in announcements of marriages and baptisms and First Communions—or 50th high school reunions.  An ordinary life might include a new set of dentures, a face-lift or at least a monthly deep body massage.
            But what is the alternative to an ordinary life? What are the invitations in these times to jump up on that Cross?  Not having children because of the population explosion?  Biking or walking rather than buying yet another new car? Not eating meat to save the forests? Growing your own lettuces and tomatoes and buying organic? 
            Getting up on that Cross would give a different perspective, all right.  To think about it makes me dizzy.

Monday, July 27, 2015

First Word: Tessa Too-Kong: Temptation

…is chocolate, in all its forms. Oscar Wilde said, “I can resist everything except temptation!” and I agree! I have submitted, admitted defeat, surrendered to the temporary bliss and proximal (?) consequences – overweight, diabetes, hypertension… . It cannot be a coincidence that our tastes and inclinations are primed to desire all the forbidden fruits. What joy is there in repression, celibacy, suppressing the instincts, unless you are a masochist? Or is there a higher pleasure we should aspire to through self-denial that we will only appreciate once we get there? My nannie Edith used to sing, 
            The Devil is a sly old fox,
            if I could catch him, I’d put him in a box,
            lock the door and throw away the key,
            for all the tricks he’s played on me. 
            Once we can blame the Devil, like Eve, it’s his responsibility and it’s a game between him and God and we are but the miserable pawns. Why is there temptation? What does it achieve? Do we become morally superior to our former selves, like a snake shedding its old skin, or a larva metamorphosing?
            And how many skins do we need to shed, especially when it’s the same old temptation? (Others’ temptations leave me cold – subjective it is! Mine is not stealing other women’s husbands or murdering my neighbour…  though it might be watching too much cable TV or playing too much bridge). I long ago lost the temptation to quarrel (and I did have a temper) so that’s one skin I stepped out of… or to speak my mind (unless asked) - I learned early on not to give unwanted advice to my adult children – I now have to not resist the temptation to smile when they come to me for advice. Maybe I am on Cloud Nine already. Tempt me all you want…!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tuesday Prompt: Susan Siddeley: String

String, Wot, Me?

I’m on one alright, but not of lights.
I’m a dangling tangle
fit for kittens.
I´m in knots.
Memory knots. A quipu:
the old Incan thread counter.
I feel like one too, a cluster
of bumpy strings attached to a rope.
An old mop in need of a squeeze,
well-used, full of secrets.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Suzanne Adam: Book Release

Introducing Marrying Santiago by Suzanne Adam

She hadn’t seen it coming. Her new Chilean husband had changed his mind, or, rather, the military coup changed it. Instead of their relocating to her native California as planned, he wanted to give his country a chance. 

Raised in the lush landscape of Marin County, Suzanne never expected to settle in a vast foreign city like Santiago. Once there, she faced a series of daunting challenges: from understanding the country’s idiosyncratic dialect to food shortages and a military dictatorship which became more than personal when she learned that her maid’s boyfriend was a terrorist. After a visit home, she returned to Chile with a California redwood seedling in her pocket.  Together they would push down their roots into that distant soil.
That was more than four decades ago.  In the intervening years, Suzanne has raised children whose language and lives are often incomprehensible, dealt with the reality of a cross-continent life where aging parents are a world away and a husband who comes home at nine every night might as well be.  Among these everyday challenges, she has found rich veins of love and friendship, and alongside her redwood tree, learned to love a country where a day might bring desert sands above the tropic of Capricorn or a fossil-filled Patagonian plateau.

Marrying Santiago can be purchased here

Suzanne Adam served in the Peace Corps in Colombia before moving to Santiago, Chile, where she lives with her husband. Before turning to writing, she worked as a teacher of learning disabled children. Her rich love of nature narrative essays have been published in The Christian Science Monitor, California Magazine, Persimmon Tree, the Independent Journal and online magazine Nature Writing. 
She blogs at Tarweed Spirit and through Peacecorps Worldwide at Introduced Species.